Striking with the Root: Turmeric Curcumin & Ulcerative Colitis

Striking with the Root: Turmeric Curcumin & Ulcerative Colitis
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A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found a dramatic effect of the anti-inflammatory spice pigment, curcumin, against inflammatory bowel disease.

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Despite evidence going back 40 years that the turmeric spice component, curcumin, possesses significant anti-inflammatory activity, it wasn’t until 2005 that it was first tested on inflammatory bowel disease. Why did it take so long? Well, who’s going to fund such a study? Big curry? But lack of corporate backing doesn’t stop individual doctors from giving it a try, which is what these New York physicians did. They decided to ask the next five patients that walked into the door with ulcerative colitis to start curcumin supplements.

Ulcerative colitis is a debilitating, chronic, relapsing-remitting—meaning it comes and goes—inflammatory bowel disease that afflicts millions. As with most diseases, we have a bunch of drugs to treat people, but sometimes these drugs can add to disease complications—most commonly nausea, vomiting, headaches, rash, fever, and inflammation of the liver, pancreas, and kidneys—as well as wiping out our immune system and fertility. Most ulcerative colitis patients need to be on drugs every day for the rest of their lives; so, we need something safe to keep the disease under control.

So, how’d they do on the spice extract? Overall, all five subjects improved by the end of the study—and four out of five were able to decrease or eliminate their meds. They had more formed stools, less frequent bowel movements, and less abdominal pain and cramping. One even reported decreased muscle soreness than they normally felt after their exercise routine. But this was what’s called an open label study, meaning that the patients knew that they were taking something; and so, some of the improvement may have just been the placebo effect. In 2013, another small open-label pilot study found encouraging results in a pediatric population, but what was needed was a larger scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

And here we go! They took a bunch of people with quiescent ulcerative colitis, and gave them either turmeric curcumin along with their typical anti-inflammatory drugs, or a placebo and their drugs. In the placebo group, eight relapsed, out of 39, meaning their disease flared back up. In the curcumin group? Only two, out of 43; significantly fewer. And relapse or not, clinically, the placebo group got worse, and the curcumin group got better. And endoscopically, objectively visualizing the inside of their colons, the same thing. A trend towards worse or better.

Five percent relapse rate in the curcumin group, 20% relapse rate in the just conventional care group. It was such a dramatic difference that the researchers wondered if it was some kind of fluke. Even though patients were randomized to each group, maybe through some chance coincidence the curcumin group just ended up being much healthier; and so, maybe it was some freak occurrence, rather than curcumin, that accounted for the results. So, what they did was they extended the study another six months, but put everyone on placebo. So, they stopped the curcumin to see if they’d then start relapsing too, and that’s exactly what happened. All of a sudden, they became just as bad as the sugar pill group.

Conclusion: Curcumin seems to be a promising and safe medication—no side effects at all reported—for maintaining remission in patients with quiescent ulcerative colitis. So, “Curry for the cure?” asked an accompanying editorial in the journal of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Can curcumin be added to our list of options with respect to maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis? What is noteworthy, as I mentioned, is the fact that not only did the authors demonstrate a statistically significant decrease in relapse at six months, but a statistically significant improvement in the endoscopic index as well. Equally telling is the fact that upon withdrawal of curcumin, the relapse rate quickly paralleled that of patients treated initially with placebo—implying that curcumin was, in fact, exerting some important biologic effect.

That’s the same thing a Cochrane review concluded in 2013: curcumin may be a safe and effective adjunct therapy. Cochrane reviews take all the best studies meeting strict quality criteria and compile all the best science together—normally a gargantuan undertaking, but not in this case, as there is really just that one good study.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Jonathan Cohen / Flickr

Despite evidence going back 40 years that the turmeric spice component, curcumin, possesses significant anti-inflammatory activity, it wasn’t until 2005 that it was first tested on inflammatory bowel disease. Why did it take so long? Well, who’s going to fund such a study? Big curry? But lack of corporate backing doesn’t stop individual doctors from giving it a try, which is what these New York physicians did. They decided to ask the next five patients that walked into the door with ulcerative colitis to start curcumin supplements.

Ulcerative colitis is a debilitating, chronic, relapsing-remitting—meaning it comes and goes—inflammatory bowel disease that afflicts millions. As with most diseases, we have a bunch of drugs to treat people, but sometimes these drugs can add to disease complications—most commonly nausea, vomiting, headaches, rash, fever, and inflammation of the liver, pancreas, and kidneys—as well as wiping out our immune system and fertility. Most ulcerative colitis patients need to be on drugs every day for the rest of their lives; so, we need something safe to keep the disease under control.

So, how’d they do on the spice extract? Overall, all five subjects improved by the end of the study—and four out of five were able to decrease or eliminate their meds. They had more formed stools, less frequent bowel movements, and less abdominal pain and cramping. One even reported decreased muscle soreness than they normally felt after their exercise routine. But this was what’s called an open label study, meaning that the patients knew that they were taking something; and so, some of the improvement may have just been the placebo effect. In 2013, another small open-label pilot study found encouraging results in a pediatric population, but what was needed was a larger scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

And here we go! They took a bunch of people with quiescent ulcerative colitis, and gave them either turmeric curcumin along with their typical anti-inflammatory drugs, or a placebo and their drugs. In the placebo group, eight relapsed, out of 39, meaning their disease flared back up. In the curcumin group? Only two, out of 43; significantly fewer. And relapse or not, clinically, the placebo group got worse, and the curcumin group got better. And endoscopically, objectively visualizing the inside of their colons, the same thing. A trend towards worse or better.

Five percent relapse rate in the curcumin group, 20% relapse rate in the just conventional care group. It was such a dramatic difference that the researchers wondered if it was some kind of fluke. Even though patients were randomized to each group, maybe through some chance coincidence the curcumin group just ended up being much healthier; and so, maybe it was some freak occurrence, rather than curcumin, that accounted for the results. So, what they did was they extended the study another six months, but put everyone on placebo. So, they stopped the curcumin to see if they’d then start relapsing too, and that’s exactly what happened. All of a sudden, they became just as bad as the sugar pill group.

Conclusion: Curcumin seems to be a promising and safe medication—no side effects at all reported—for maintaining remission in patients with quiescent ulcerative colitis. So, “Curry for the cure?” asked an accompanying editorial in the journal of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Can curcumin be added to our list of options with respect to maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis? What is noteworthy, as I mentioned, is the fact that not only did the authors demonstrate a statistically significant decrease in relapse at six months, but a statistically significant improvement in the endoscopic index as well. Equally telling is the fact that upon withdrawal of curcumin, the relapse rate quickly paralleled that of patients treated initially with placebo—implying that curcumin was, in fact, exerting some important biologic effect.

That’s the same thing a Cochrane review concluded in 2013: curcumin may be a safe and effective adjunct therapy. Cochrane reviews take all the best studies meeting strict quality criteria and compile all the best science together—normally a gargantuan undertaking, but not in this case, as there is really just that one good study.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Jonathan Cohen / Flickr

115 responses to “Striking with the Root: Turmeric Curcumin & Ulcerative Colitis

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  1. Are there studies on using turmeric for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD? My dad suffered from GERD as long as I can remember and was always popping Tums…before passing away a hair short of 90 (of other causes). No doubt lifestyle changes would have helped with the GERD, but is there independent benefit from turmeric?




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    1. I eliminated GERD when I quit eating meat, sugar, and oils. I added turmeric later. It’s best to approach the WHOLE picture and not simply a “additive” here and there. My GERD was completely caused by what I ate. I was on PPI’s for two years. So happy to be off them. Tums were no match for the reflux, it was awful.




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      1. I eliminated GERD when I lost weight, primarily due to long slow aerobic walking, and modified my diet. I ate less red meat, more lean protein (fish and chicken), and more greens, beans, onions and mushrooms. For me, a more Mediterranean diet made a big difference. I did not have to go vegetarian to achieve the desired outcome. I’m not knocking vegetarianism, but it’s not for everyone. And you need to be careful to get your B-complex vitamins if you do go vegetarian; I had a good friend who was a vegan, and he battled pernicious anemia due to lack of B vitamins in his diet.




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          1. Maybe some people do. Get over it and yourself. Eat whatever you want, however you want, but PLEASE don’t be self righteous about it. When the US becomes a totalitarian state, and regulates dietary consumption of the populous, then by all means, be as snarky as you want. However, until then, be mindful that it is your personal dietary choice and feeling and believing you are superior, because of it, does not make it so.




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            1. Imb you can still smoke, drink and do everything and anything You wish. But meat, dairy and eggs directly and extremely negatively affects a third party feeling individual that is just like you and me. The 3rd party is caged & tortured for your “Choice”. Now if there was a health benefit to you that could not be fulfilled otherwise then you have a very weak lousy defense. But all three (meat, dairy & eggs) are unhealthy.




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              1. What you’re railing against here is big ags mistreatment of animals. It’s appalling, I agree.

                Small farmers do not mistreat their animals. There is a push for buy local in the country–away from large corporate interests, maybe you’ve missed that while pushing your agenda and chastising people.

                I’m sorry you don’t like the fact that humans are omnivores. Recognize that it’s your choice not to be and stop with the self righteousness.The more you push your agenda, the less I care. Find a different tact if you want to be taken seriously.




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                1. I don’t have an agenda (You do). I am Very Glad that you are also against animal torture industry (we agree 100% on that). Whether I am right or you are right makes Zero difference to whether we are omnivore or herbivore (it’s not an ego or emotional issue). I have been a herbivore in the past 15 years and I am in great health. I jog, walk, swim, etc… and have lost 50#s of unwanted weight when I ate an omnivore diet of cooked-burnt meat, dairy and eggs. About 15 years ago, I saw physical evidence (teeth, jaws, etc…) that convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt that I am a Herbivore and that I was conned into believing we are omnivores by religious society and mainstream media.




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                    1. Well, if you were, you would not succeed against overwhelming Physical Evidence. You can try with your hired scientists “Opinions” and interpretation of history and Bible studies. But those are just superstitious beliefs, “Ego” and prejudice.




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                    2. I’m not trying anything except to get out of this conversation & you won’t quit, which is the MO of a vegan & what turns people off from whatever you’re saying. If you all knocked on doors like Jehovah’s Witnesses, you’d get them slammed in your faces, because you have the same obnoxious in-your-face attributes.I see that you’re passionate, but maybe find a better way than superiority if you want to convince others.




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                    3. Imb: You aren’t quitting either (and if your latest post does not break the rules of this site, it comes darn close). Feel free to stop posting at any time. You do not have to respond to every post. Just let it go. You don’t even have to respond to this post.
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                      That goes for both of you… This conversation has hit it’s natural end. Thanks.




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                    4. You’re right, Thea, I have no idea what the site rules are. I apologize for overstepping them if I did indeed do that & no I do not have to answer every comment as they come to my box–this will be my last. I will not be curious again to bother educating myself on vegan ways, so as not run the risk of getting into such conversations. We’re all good here.




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                    5. Sorry, I came out too strongly & you are correct about my passion of trying to stop animal-kid torture factories. But in fairness, we Vegans are also constantly bombarded with advertisements, propaganda & Lies of meat, dairy and egg industry.




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          2. You lost me when I read your last sentence….not only was it quite judgemental, it was also inflammatory. I am turning away from meat that comes from animals who are manipulated to grow fast and big while caged and fed bt corn.
            We all have our perspectives but I cannot see myself not having free range eggs and European cheese for the rest of my life.




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        1. Hello, great work there on your diet and exercise routine. I would caution consuming lean protein (fish and chicken) as they happen to be the worst meats depending on how they are prepared and cooked and all eventually cause some negative effects on the body over time. Yes I would take a B-12 supplement as it can’t be obtained from food sources. Highly recommend reading How not to Die or the CD’s as Dr. Greger goes further into detail regarding the effects of animal flesh in the body.




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      2. Hi which oils did you eliminate? Only processed? I use olive and coconut oils primarily, eat no meat, dairy, very little sugar and still suffering from GERD. And it seems impossible for me to lose any weight. Always trying never happens




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        1. I only use enough oil to keep my iron cookware from sticking to food. Maybe a tablespoon or two per week. Despite marketing, oils of every sort should be minimized. If you eat the plant from which the oil is derived, you are consuming the WFPB version of the “oil”. Extracting oils is processing, no matter how minimal and NOTHING has higher caloric density. An unnaturally caloric density is the THING we’re avoiding when we avoid oils.




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    2. I briefly had GERD, and my naturopath said, “It’s a wheat thing and it’s an overweight thing.” Within three days of eliminating wheat it disappeared. I then went on to lose weight and have never had the problem again. And now I can eat wheat, though I can’t help wondering if it really is an allergen for me. That was in the days before I knew the value of a whole foods plant based diet, so I was still eating meat, dairy and eggs. No more of that for me now!




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        1. I just watched that yesterday! I am well aware of many problems with modern wheat and the results of hybridization adding untested forms of gluten, and with the way it is dried with glyphosate just before harvest. If it isn’t organic it’s bad stuff, and maybe even if it is, because of the hybridization problems. I find it so interesting that wheat just keeps adding more genes with each hybridization, while people get the same number with each baby.




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    3. A PubMed search came up with a nice review article by Lyn Patrick ND available for free. http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/16/2/116.pdf . It cites studies showing some beneficial use of curcumin for GERD among others. I find it interesting to read about interventions such as curcumin to “treat” the condition but I have always recommended scientifically supported lifestyle modifications before recommending medicine or supplements although they are sometimes useful on temporary basis. For GERD this involves going on a low fat whole plant diet, achieving “normal” body weight, raising head of bed 4-6 inches or foam incline (not extra pillows), eat small meals frequently, avoid lying down for 3 hours after eating, avoid specific foods that have been shown to be associated with heartburn such as raw onions, coffee (both caffeinated and decaf), tea capsaicin and chocolate. The other considerations is the reduction of medications which have associated with heartburn including NSAID’s, narcotics, beta blockers, sedative/hypnotics). In my experience the above factors usually turn symptoms around rather quickly with days or a week or two. Given that everyone is different it and especially when patients are on medications they need to work with their treating health care professional(s) to work out what is best for them. When changing multiple factors it is virtually impossible to know which “one” worked but once things are under control you can see if some of the “potential” causes can be tolerated. While statistics and reductionistic thinking help ferret out independent effects as a clinician I’m more interested in what works for specific individuals. The science keeps changing so it is important to subscribe to NF.org to keep up.




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      1. Thanks! I suspect that sometimes a certain food, such as turmeric or strawberries, if they give a bit of relief, might start someone on a better dietary path–a first step or “gateway food” as it were?




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    4. Organic Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar helps with mild gurd and other tummy issues! I drink 1tsp as needed for heartburn,nausea,paine etc.




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  2. It’s amazing. Love your work. But, i have a question i have been wondering for a while now. A related subject. I have been dealing with IBS-d for over a year now. It definetely has gotten better. But, the problem with IBS-d is that you cannot really eat “healthy”. Fiber content (especially insoluble fiber which is very hard to not find in plant foods) must be reduced for better bowel movements, which ends up limiting your food choices a ton. Trying to go vegan–impossible. Eating more soluble fiber, like I said hard to find and does not better bowel health as expected. So, if you have any advice for IBS-d sufferers like me, i would really appriciate it.
    For those who are like me; fermented vegetables work really good// soluble fiber choices oatmeal, cooked vegetables, some beans are good/ arthichoke leaf extract (which works amazing, but your body get used to it) / and staying away from any type of grain except white rice and oats.




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    1. on youtube chef aj interviews dr goldhamer , who uses a lot of fasting in his work, wonder if fasting would help.
      dr goldhamer is like dr mcdougall but on steroids lol




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    2. I guess everybody is different. Though it was a challenge at first, I guess once my microbiome got established, no more problems, IBS-d became a non issue, when I couldn’t even leave the house at one point. Amazing.




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        1. I think fermented foods plays into the equation in a huge way and is very underrated and/or understudied. Going plant based was amazing, but the addition of fermented foods was the final piece of the puzzle, or at least accelerated healing. It can cause it’s own set of problems if approached too enthusiastically, but the payoff was worth it!




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    3. It’s very possible to eat vegan with IBD/IBS-d. Certain insoluble fiber foods cause digestive upsets, but after a flare when your microflora is becoming more balanced you can do them more. I had severe chronic diarrhea (up to 25 times a day) for multiple months and I’m now eating a plant-based McDougall diet and only going 3-4 times a day, but I need to avoid certain beans to avoid issues that typically last about 24 hours only now.




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      1. Wow, i am sorry about that. However, considering i was able to add beans to my diet only this month and not in high amounts, i would be quite deficient in protein. I had been dangerously lean for a while anyways. So, i couldn’t have said no to extra calories from animal products. Also, i figured that since animal products have no fibre, they help pull me together when i am having discomfort. Other than that, my aim is to go vegan anyways at some point. If you could share some of the plant foods that are doing you good, i would be happy :)




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        1. Potatoes! Their protein is very high quality too. Don’t think about needing protein. To stop children’s D, pediatricians used to say BRAT diet – bananas, rice applesauce, toast. White rice might help you get more low fiber calories in until you heal.




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            1. Chances are you are not getting enough potassium and excess sodium so CKD patients are more likely to benefit from eating potassium-rich foods.




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                  1. I think the elevated K requirement comes from recognizing AND accepting that Americans will eat lots of salt and need extra K to compensate. But 2 grams seems low…2½?




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      1. Thanks, Tom! Just found that button. Also found the answer to my question: “Curcumin was administered orally in a dose of 2 g/day for six months.”




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          1. French/English same stuff? Also, see bio-availability video–should be mixed with black pepper and a bit of olive oil. I think :)




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            1. Tumeric and curcumin aren’t quite the same thing. Turmeric is derived from the rhizomes (underground stems) of the plant Curcuma longa, a member of the ginger family. It is responsible for the yellow color of Indian curry and American mustard. Curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is the most active constituent of turmeric. Research studies seem to use curcumin. However, historically it seems that whenever we try to take a piece out of whole food, we end up with less health benefits. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with turmeric. Agree, you have to have it with black pepper for absorption.




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              1. This is where I’m confused. What is the name and strength of the supplement I want to buy in the drug store, or am I better off hitting the organic aisle of spices? Which is more formulated to be digestible in a way to give me benefits?




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                    1. What in the video made you stop?
                      As I understood it the warning was about adding pepper to already massive amounts of curcumin (a cupful), resulting in still massive more amounts being absorbed into the bloodstream.

                      It had nothing to do with a rational teaspoon or capsule-size dose.




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                    2. Bioperine (piperine) is the stuff in black pepper that enhances bioavailability. The supplement was an extract of turmeric containing a large amount of curcumin (though it was a whole plant extract so it presumably contained other compounds as well).




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                  1. “AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS:
                    Curcumin may be a safe and effective therapy for maintenance of remission in quiescent UC when given as adjunctive therapy along with mesalamine or sulfasalazine.

                    Emphasis added by me.




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              2. One note; IF we wanted to absorb the turmeric we would indeed want to mix it with food containing some fat to enhance absorption (no need to use refined liquid oil, fat is fat, so just as effective when eaten as part of a whole food), and mix with some black pepper to suppress the liver enzymes that break curcumin down so that it stays in circulation longer. But what if the effect in the case of UC is from a “topical” application as it were where non-absorbed turmeric bathed the inner walls of the large intestine. In that case you would want to reduce the amount absorbed so as much as possible made it down to the bowel.

                Or maybe the best way is a “hit ’em high and hit ’em low” approach and take some turmeric with fat containing foods and black pepper at one point in the day and at another time deliberately take it without any fat to reduce absorption. Then the active ingredients would be coming at the cells lining the colon from both sides.




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  3. Impressive. Off on another tangent…I understand the purpose of a double blind placebo controlled study, but what I don’t understand is why the placebo effect itself isn’t given more respect and attention for the potential curative powers it exhibits. Our minds and bodies are inexorably linked and if a suggestion of positive/negative effect can have such noticeable and dramatic effects on our physiology, shouldn’t it be celebrated and cultivated instead of relegated to the dusty tool bin of double blind trials? I love science, but I think our mental capacities lie beyond the proof of controlled anything. You can study a brain, but how do you study a mind…or even define it? Our ancestors certainly used it to their advantage…medicine men, shaman, etc. cured and still cure people, and I don’t think it’s ‘magic’. Religion and it’s dogma is an accepted, even expected fact of life, but spirituality, emotion, intuition and the other unquantifiable facets of our beings are woo-woo and out there? The older I get the more the Eastern philosophies actually make sense to me.




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    1. The problem becomes anyone with enough funds can publish a countless number of studies abusing the placebo effect on something that does nothing but generate profit. I think if you can find something useful to give people and make them think its useful, you might get twice the effect, so we should be aware that a pill has a positive mental effect, but just don’t feed people anything, focus on getting them the right thing.




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    2. I think the placebo effect is respected but how would it be put into practice as a therapy? Lie to people? I think they used to do something like that in Japan but it fell out of favor. I don’t know how it would be possible to harness the power of the placebo effect without degrading or even destroying that which may actually lead to something curative in the long run, which is information, not to mention the effects of a lack of trust and/or faith in medicine as well as those in the field.




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      1. Its not that placebo needs to put into practice, rather it continues to remind us how powerful the mind/ body connection is. The two are not mutually exclusive. Techniques such as meditation, self hypnosis, Tai Chi, yoga (real yoga, not gym yoga) are powerful health aids that really need no more scientific study, because know they work.




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        1. We seem to be forgetting that most illnesses are self limiting and given time and reasonable conditions, the immune system is able to overcome them – treatment or none.
          Have we become so dependent on the “take this pill” practice that we need a sugar pill to let our bodies do what they have evolved to do – survive?




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          1. “Have we become so dependent on the “take this pill” practice…?”
            Well, yes. Because that’s what we’re told; that’s all we know. We’ve become accustom to letting big pharma treat us. Don’t get me wrong, medications are great for acute and chronic illnesses alike, and thank God we have them. But in many cases, not all of course, during the time one is being medicated, investigate and research what other lifestyle changes can be made to assist in getting well. Always look for a synergistic holistic approach whenever possible. Easier said then done, but today, we’ve so much info at our finger tips, it couldn’t hurt to try.




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    3. Hi Vege-tater. You might be interested in the work of Dr Irving Kirsch on the subject of placebo. It has been the main subject of his research. There is also a nocebo effect, bad outcome from negative expectations. It is a fascinating subject. I believe that generally the placebo effect is around 30% which is really very impressive. In the past doctors did give placebos sometimes but this is no longer considered ethical.
      I recall that there was even an experiment in which participants were told ” This is a placebo but it actually helps some people”—possibly this was from Dr. Kirsch’s work, though I don’t know the reference.




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  4. In reference to the recent video I received today Ulcerative Colitis treated with Tumeric/Curcumin. How much of a dose should be consumed daily?




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    1. This study used curcumin 2g/day for six months. Click on the “sources cited” button to the right of the video for the actual references.




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    1. Turns out there are health benefits of capers (of course, being a plant, I shouldn’t really be surprised). They are antioxidants. Here’s the most accessible article I found; of note this article specifically looked at the antioxidant properties of capers when combined with meat: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071022212740.htm. Capers are also a source of fiber. However, the brined version often contain a lot of sodium, so be sure to check the nutrition and ingredient labels.




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  5. How do we find out how much Turmeric we need to use in order to get the same dosage of Curcumin given in this study (2g)?




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      1. Thanks, I’ve seen them all already. I suffer from IBD so this study and dosage specifically is what I’m interested in. My guess is that 2g in the form of turmeric is probably too much and I will have to depend on supplementation, but I’m curious to know how much it equals.




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        1. Hello Etienne-Emile,
          I just Googled “curcumin content of turmeric”, and came up with this abstract from PubMed. The answer, among all the spices they studied was: “Pure turmeric powder had the highest curcumin concentration, averaging 3.14% by weight.” So you would have to eat a very large amount of turmeric (63.7 grams, to be exact) to get 2 grams of curcumin per day.

          Another finding from my Googling was a commercial link to a product which supposedly contains 95% curcumin, in 500 mg capsules. Here is that link. I CAN NOT vouch for the quality of this product, but it seems there are relatively concentrated curcumin products out there. Turmeric, of course, contains other compounds which may have their own health benefits.




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          1. Yes, figured as much! Thank you. I started the supplement. Got diagnosed with Ulcerative Proctitis today. Will be taking 2.2g of Curcumin with Bioperine as a complementary treatment.




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  6. Are there studies using turmeric for macular degeneration? I used to supplement with it but quit. I had read the supposition that too many carotenoids of other types might keep the eyes from getting enough lutein and zeaxanthin.




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    1. Hi Mitch. You will probably find the best tasting turmeric at shops that sell spices in bulk, like traditional Indian shops. THey sell a lot and that means the stock will not be stale. Hope that is helpful.




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    2. It looks like dog poo, it smells like dog poo, it even tastes like dog poo…..wow am I glad I didn’t step in that! So goes the old joke. It tastes like dirt because that is what it is. I once worked for a large food producer and they used huge amounts of spices , there were over 300 people working there. At one point I trained for quality control position. So everytime a new batch number of spice was used we took samples and used petri dishes to see what would grow. Then that was sent to the lab to see what the heck it was. A lot of the time the spice would fail safety specifications for raw consumption, but this product would be frozen then taken home by the consumer and cooked to specifications, which would render it safe.
      So we asked the lab what was in the spice to make it fail on such a regular basis. The answer dirt.
      Now the people working on the line were told never eat product , that was policy, just would not look good.
      Lots of people would anyways and I seen lots of people come down with flu like symptoms after eating product, very few made the connection.
      My advice buy the best brand name you can get, they do have quality control, even if it costs a bit more and cook it !
      I also might mention a lot of production areas where they are growing these spice may not even have potable water.
      How can you clean your equipment or wash produce properly without potable water?




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      1. Ugg… no wonder…. dirt.. Your words ring true as in my youth, I once worked in a vitamin supply and packing house.. Imagine taking bails of “pills” out of sacks and putting them on a huge perforated rotating counting wheel and then putting the contents in a plastic pill jar. Fill a tray with jars and pass it down the line to the next station.. ALL NITE LONG you got a little crazy.. Pill fights would ensue and we would just sweep the pills off the floor and, yup you guessed it. IN THE JARS THEY WENT…
        So I’m gonna take Dr Miriam’s advice and go with a name brand from my local Indian store…




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  7. Michael greger ,Dr mcdougall and all the rest give us hope,

    when all the other doctors make us to be chronic patients and even eventually kills us , by their aggressive medicine practice.




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  8. Would you recommend that individuals with Crohn’s disease supplement their diets with turmeric (in addition to whatever medications they take)? And if so, what dosage would you recommend?




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    1. Others have said that the study was conducted with 2 grams of curcumin a day. This paper states that pure turmeric powder contained 3.14% curcumin by weight. Thus to get 2 grams of curcumin a day would require consumption of 64 grams of turmeric or 2.25 ounces. According to this calculator one tablespoon of turmeric has a mass of 9.4 grams. Thus to get 64 grams of turmeric would require consumption of 6.8 tablespoons of turmeric. So basically to replicate the exact dosage of curcumin from the study you would have to consume about 7 tablespoons a day! That is probably more than most people would be able to consume, but destruction of your large intestine by Crohn’s might provide ample motivation to do so.

      BUT, this all is based on at least two major assumptions.

      1) It assumes that curcumin is the only active ingredient turmeric relative to inflammatory bowel diseases. As we have seen numerous times this highly reductive approach is often misleading or even simply wrong. Turmeric contains a lot of compounds other than curcumin. These other compounds can be biologically active as well. Even more important they can have synergistic effects (which is an anathema to the “one cause/one effect” methodology that is at the heart of reductive science). So it is entirely possible that a much smaller amount of the whole spice could have the same effect as the large amount of isolated curcumin.

      2) It assumes that 2 grams a day is the optimal dose. Response curves of the body tend to be highly nonlinear for many substances. Rather they tend to be rather “S” shaped with very low amounts not having much effect. Then past some lower threshold the effect rapidly increases until an upper threshold is reached where the response to additional amounts tapers way off. So a single study would have a very hard time determining where on the response curve 2 grams/day would fall. It could be less than the maximum response and more would be even better. Or it could be several times the upper threshold and it is possible that a fraction of the amount used in the study would be just as effective.

      But to do the tests required to definitively resolve these two questions would be a very large undertaking, and, like Dr. Greger says, it is hard to get Big Curry to poney up the funding for such a test. Now the U.S Institutes of Health could certainly fund something with no commercial, just health, implications, but they seem to be captive to the large pharmaceutical companies, and so don’t really look at things that can’t turned into highly profitable drugs.

      In the interim I can’t see how turmeric as opposed to isolated curcumin would hurt. I would look at other videos on this site to see what an upper safe amount of turmeric might be and try to go for that. You can do things like eat curry all the time or do like I do to get 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric a day and make a spiced (plant) milk cocktail with turmeric along with some other spices like cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

      But to get larger amounts you might investigate buying turmeric in large amounts from online stores or local Indian groceries and then pack the turmeric into capsules that you can then just swallow. You can buy empty capsules along with a simple capsule filler that allows you to easily make 50 capsules at a time. In a comment to a previous turmeric video I calculated that a capsule with 2 grams of turmeric would cost about 5 cents each. So to get 64 grams of turmeric a day would require 32 capsules (quite a handful!) but only cost about $1.60.

      Again this assumes that the minimum effective dosage is 2 grams of curcumin a day for this treatment modality and that there are no other positive synergistic effects with other components of turmeric. One approach would be to do an “experiment of one” and just see what works. Start with a quarter or half of the dosage as the study and see if the number of flares is reduced. If they are reduced in frequency, but still occurring, then increase the dosage to see if there is any further improvement.




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  9. Dosage? I’ve done a few searches with uncertain results – maybe 2g daily? For what size person? I use curcumin pills from NOW which are purported to be more absorbable since turmeric is not easily absorbed unless accompanied by black pepper. My IBS-D is aggravated by hot spices so I don’t do black pepper. Does the curcumin work by being absorbed into the bloodstream or by not being digested and hence contacting the bowel lining directly? My IBS-D




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    1. Hello Jerryamos: I am a family physician and volunteer website moderator for NutritionFacts. I just looked on PubMed to see if I could find an answer to your question. Here are a three articles that might help. For the first two, I couldn’t immediately find a way to look at the full text (without paying); the third link is to a full text review article. The curcumin dosage used in the study they cite was 1 gram, twice a day.
      Hope these help.
      1) Curcumin as a therapeutic agent in the chemoprevention of inflammatory bowel disease.
      2) Dietary Supplement Therapies for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
      3) Herbal and plant therapy in patients with inflammatory bowel disease




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      1. Thanks much. I’m trying the dosage you mention. My IBS-D was triggered by hot spice overload and has lasted for months with slow variable trending improvement as I try omitting possible trigger foods like spices, coffee, chocolate,…. I had been avoiding curcumin thinking it was a spice.




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      1. My symptoms are like Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Diarrhea which were instigated by too much hot spices of which in my case black pepper is one. My bowel gets irritated by hot spices and speeds up starting in January. Recovery has been slow trending better by omitting foods that may be irritating my bowel. So far, starting 5 days ago,I think I’m getting some improvement with Curcumin. I’m trying NOW Curcumin Phytosome which the manufacturer claims is a bio-enhanced curcumin extract. for enhanced bioavailability. I intend to try it for a couple months then decide whether to try a different version. As of June, there are times of day that are better and some times I’m trailing off to the toilet. BTW, I feel normal, weight the same, it’s more a question of embarrassment.




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  10. Is the treatment of UC with turmeric/curcumin the result of absorbed or non-absorbed curcumin? If it is from circulating curcumin, then we would want to enhance absorption with some fat and suppress its breakdown by the liver with piperine from black pepper. BUT if the effect is due to a “topical” application to the inner walls of the colon, then we would want to do exactly the opposite and try to suppress absorption so as much of the curcumin made its way into the bowel. Or maybe the best results come from curcumin coming at the cells in the lining of the colon from both sides and then we would want a partial absorption.




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  11. I live in an African country where curcumin is often used by traditional healers to treat a number of problems, including stomach ulcers.But they always use the fresh root of the plant, never the dried powdered form, and extract the juice. This adheres to the stomach wall (and all your utensiles while you’re making the stuff) and allows the ulcers to heal. This is probably the best way to use it if you can get the root.




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  12. What form of turmeric was used: power, extract from power or extract from root? How much was the dose? Any sense/info about how much is too much?




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    1. This is a recipe used successfully by my husband to cure stomach ulcers. You need half a kilo of root, peel and grate finely, then press to extract the juice. You need 4 tablespoons of juice, mix with 3 tablespoons of honey and add to a bowl of milk. Drink the mixture on an empty stomach – it tastes horrible and will make you want to throw up, but it stays down, don’t worry! Repeat after a few days if symptoms persist, but usually the one dose does the trick. As the stuff stains terribly, it’s best to cover the surfaces in the kitchen with old newspapers and wash all the utensiles straightaway.




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  13. Everyone has a cause, Scott. Do I believe that animals should be treated inhumanely, of course not.

    Your assertion that animals are “murdered for human pleasure” and you list food, clothing, and testing as examples, is the kind of hyperbolic absurdity that people reject from the vegan “cause.”

    Food and clothing are necessities (there are far more choices than leather for footwear & clothing), if not for testing on lab rats and mice there would not be many of the medical break throughs we have, so hardly a “pleasure.”

    I applaud the passion you have for your cause, but pushing your vegan choice on people and chastising them is not the best approach to be taken seriously.

    Understanding that people eat and like meat and that’s not likely to change, because of a few gnarly videos or your disdain.

    If you’re serious about the animal treatment aspect, perhaps you should work that angle, because that’s a large corporation thing and it’s not right. Smaller farms and locally raised animals aren’t treated in such a way. Have a conversation with someone who grew up on a farm or currently owns one–animals are not mistreated in the manner you depict.




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    1. Thank you for applauding me.

      Something people fail to understand is that no matter how “caring” and “kind” farmers are on small scale local farms is that the animals shouldn’t be there in the first place. They’re “in the system” of being exploited and commodified, where they are eventually murdered/slaughtered/killed way before their natural life span.

      How do you humanely kill an animal that doesn’t want to die?

      I have family who are farmers, so I know what goes on. Sure, factory farming is way worse, but in the local farms the animals are still confined by us for our pleasure; meat on a plate, skin/fur/wool on our backs etc.

      Melanie Joy’s Carnism talk on YouTube is very good to help understand the human reasoning and subsequent cognitive dissonance expressed as one objects to having a lifelong belief questioned https://youtu.be/o0VrZPBskpg

      Peace ✌




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    1. Thanks for your question Vicky!

      If you are referring to this study, then “Forty-five patients received curcumin, 1g after breakfast and 1g after the evening meal, plus sulfasalazine (SZ) or mesalamine, and 44 patients received placebo plus SZ or mesalamine for 6 months.”




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    1. Hi Vicky! Dr. Greger recommends ¼ teaspoon of dried turmeric daily as part of his Daily Dozen. This amount is equivalent to about a quarter inch of fresh turmeric root. Turmeric can really be added to anything – smoothies, entrees, soups, even desserts! Enjoy experimenting with the endless (and delicious!) possibilities. We also have evidence that shows adding a quarter teaspoon of black pepper can significantly boost the compounds of turmeric in your blood. So, it’s always a good idea to consume these two together. Best wishes!




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      1. And it doesn’t take much. If you give people a bunch of turmeric curcumin, within an hour you can see a little bump in the level in their blood stream. The reason we don’t see more is that our liver is actively trying to get rid of it, but what if you suppress that process by taking just a quarter teaspoon’s worth of black pepper? Then you see curcumin levels like this. Same amount of curcumin consumed, but the bioavailability shoots up 2000%. Even just a little pinch of pepper—1/20th of a teaspoon—can significantly boost levels. And guess what a common ingredient in curry powder is besides turmeric? Black pepper. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/boosting-the-bioavailability-of-curcumin/




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  14. I am looking for help with nutrition for radiation enteritis and gastroparesis 30 years post cancer treatment. Any suggestions – my husband has to stick to a low fiber, low fat diet – which means lots of protein from meat and starches. Any recommendations much appreciated!




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  15. Turmeric and Curcumin NOT Healthful!?

    Dr. Greger and Staff,
    What say you to this recent study, stating that curcumin/tumeric are not a cure-all. In fact, curcumin has properties that trick researchers into misinterpreting results? http://pubs.acs.org/doi/ipdf/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00975

    These researchers seems to say that curcumin has properties that trick researches into thinking it has medicinal qualities or effects.
    http://www.nature.com/news/deceptive-curcumin-offers-cautionary-tale-for-chemists-1.21269?WT.ec_id=NEWSDAILY-20170111

    Time for a new video to address this, I think, considering all of the videos that you have touting turmeric/curcumin.

    Thanks for all your work,

    Neil




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  16. Dear Dr. Greger and team,
    thanks for the good work, learned lots, been inspired on a routinely basis! :-)

    I’ve been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis years ago, I’m in continuous remission for about 8-9 years now. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

    For half year, I’ve been on a whole-food plant-based diet like you recommend (before that I was vegan mostly, but not always). Also I take 1 tsp. of turmeric + pinch of black pepper in the morning, just in a cup of mineral water, and a little swig of apple cider vinegar in the evening. I exercise moderately.

    Colonoscopies reveal a little chronic-inflammatory activity confined to the rectum. This has been so like nearly for ages.

    My question is: Is this the best one can do? Or is there anything I missed?

    What about the issue about the sulfide and the toxic influence you mention (that was, I think another video, can’t find the link at the moment, sorry)? Should I skip for example nuts and soya products as well?

    Best regards

    Michael




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